In a previous post, I’ve discussed how newborn babies are terrible at everything. Now, consider that crying is their only means of communicating. I’m telling you, if there’s a master creator of the human race it’s someone like Ashton Kutcher, and we’re all being “punk’d”. We give birth to helpless babies who rely on us for everything and when they need something they wail, yowl, lament, snivel, caterwaul, and other synonyms.
“That unbearable screaming is not helping me focus or come up with an action plan, baby!”
I’d like to introduce you to the 3 Ps of maintaining your sanity:
Sounds obvious but bear with me. Trust me when I tell you that you’re going to hit a wall (without an airbag) where you just can’t listen to anymore crying, or are just too tired to keep going. You’ll probably even have some dark thoughts.
It’s crucial to harness every bit of patience that you can because your baby has no other way to communicate aside from crying. And they’re still getting used to being a human. You’re (fill in the blank with a number that’s probably at least 16) years old, and you still haven’t REALLY figured it out.
If (scratch that…when) you EVER feel yourself getting to a point where you’re becoming irrationally frustrated, you’re FAR better off setting the baby down for a minute and going to take a breather. If you’ve done everything you can and baby is still crying, then they’re no worse off being put down for a few minutes — somewhere safe obviously.
Babies are not magic 8 balls. i.e., shaking them won’t get you a preferable outcome. Seriously, don’t shake that baby. I mean it!
Get yourself together before going back to junior. Step away, clear your thoughts, then return to your baby. You may feel like you’ve abandoned your child, but your baby’s been screaming so much that they’ve probably forgotten that you even exist.
Don’t let the attachment parenting crowd make you feel guilty because you’re not holding, wearing, soothing and otherwise tending to your baby’s every whim. Nothing works of parents feel like they’re going out of their mind. Your baby can cry a bit while you regain your composure and get a moment of cry-free time.
As is the case with patience, it’s extremely easy to completely lose perspective and to envision nothing but this exact nightmare for the rest of your days. A single night can feel like an eternity, and those first few weeks and months can be super painful. I totally understand the feeling! It really DOES get better — I promise. As I write this, my son is now nine months old and has been sleeping through the night since he was about six months old (our other son was four months old, so your suffering may be almost over).
In the grand scheme of things, these moments are but a tiny blip in the life of you and your child. An exhausting, frustrating and largely un-gratifying blip, but a tiny one nonetheless. Ask many parents what their children were like as newborns and you’ll get unsure responses. Nature has ensured that we forget, to make sure we keep making more humans.
I assure you, there are a bajillion cute, awesome and fulfilling moments coming. Smiles, laughing, walking, words, hearing “I love you” and so, so much more. If you need to have a mantra to remind yourself to keep perspective, go for it! May I suggest:
“I can’t see the sun, but there are many bright moments to come.”
“Screaming in my ear, but it gets better from here.”
“In the darkness we weep, but someday we’ll get some sleep.”
“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swim-ming, swim-ming, swim-ming”
If you don’t get that last one, oh you will. You WILL!
I realize there are many single parents out there, but in this case, I’m not even necessarily talking about a romantic partner or co-parents. I mean anyone who can help you in any way during these tough nights. It could be a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a night nanny, the pizza delivery guy.
“Hey pizza guy, it’s been 34 minutes…take this crying baby!”
The best case is that you don’t need that person at all, but they’re available in case shit hits the fan. No really, if you’re not careful shit may literally hit the fan during an overnight with baby!
The next best case is that you just need another not-crying-baby in the room to help preserve your sanity. The person may do nothing but sit there and offer company, comfort, and conversation.
The worst case is that you need to be relieved entirely. They’re your pinch-sitter, if you will, except you’re not lucky enough to be out of the game for good! Take a walk, get some sleep, go to the bathroom. Then get back in there and relieve your partner!